20 March 2012
Prime Minister awards Street Angels-CNI the Big Society Award
by Asha Kurien
Street Angels-CNI (Christian Nightlife Initiatives) is the latest recipient of the prestigious Big Society Award.
Founded in 2005 by Paul Blakey MBE in Halifax, the organisation comprises of people who annually devote more than 8,000 hours of voluntary work on Saturday nights to ensure the safety of their streets.
In the last six years, they have worked alongside the police and local services to address drunken violence and serve those in the grips of alcohol abuse. Their efforts in Halifax have seen a visible decline in violent crime, which has reduced by 57%. Incidents of sexual assaults have also decreased considerably.
On weekend nights, the Street Angels can be found patrolling the streets in their bright uniforms offering first aid to people who have lost consciousness due to binge drinking, clearing the streets of glasses and bottles, and dealing with street violence.
Chief Superintendent Chris Harden, speaking on behalf of the Calderdale police said: “(Street Angels) provide a reassuring presence in our community...this successful partnership work, alongside Calderdale council, has led to Halifax town centre being awarded a Purple Flag status for a second year running in recognition of having a safe and thriving night-time economy.”
The fact that nearly 100 towns and cities across the UK, and even communities in Australia, have adapted the same pattern of outreach is a further testimony to the value of the Street Angels model.
The Big Society awards focus on three specific areas: promoting social action, empowering communities and opening up public services. When the awards were first launched in 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “These awards are a chance to pay tribute to those making a valuable contribution to their community, the real champions of the Big Society.”
In appreciation of the impact Street Angels has had, Cameron said: “Paul and his army of volunteers embody the principals of Big Society, with people standing up and taking an active role in building the type of community they want to live in - one that looks out for the vulnerable and says no the drunken, loutish, criminal behaviour that can too often blight communities.”
In response to this recognition, Paul Blakey MBE said: “Street Angels - Christian Nightlife Initiatives is thrilled to accept the Big Society Award…As our local projects, motivated by their Christian faith, partner with statutory bodies and others who care about the wider community, we become Big Society in action!”
One of the Christian organisations that partner with CNI is HOPE, whose executive director Roy Crowne congratulated CNI and said: “We are pleased to work alongside them as part of the HOPE movement to see Christians live out God's call together, sharing hope with our towns and cities through our words and actions, in order to see transformation."